Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Busting the Newbie Blues!

Small Review is holding an event to help newbie bloggers learn more about the ways of the blogging world and connect with the book blogging community.  Here is what she said about the event:

'Starting out as a new YA book blogger is a ton of fun. You meet a bunch of new people who all share in your passion for YA books, you become a part of a friendly community, and you're continually exposed to wonderful new books.

But sometimes things can be a little discouraging when you're just starting out. You look at your blog and then look at some of the awesome established bloggers out there and wonder if you'll ever make the grade. '

She is inviting new and established bloggers to answer a set of questions about the blogging experience to others. Even though I still feel like a very new blogger having only been blogging since the summer I decided to choose to answer the 'established blogger's questions.'

My Answers:

When did you start your blog?

I first created my blog in March last year but I didn't do anything with it until the end of May when I first posted however I only got into the swing of things and got involved with the book blogging community until July/August.

Why did you start your blog?

The reason I first got involved in blogging was because I wanted a place to practise writing news style writing as I want to become a journalist but once I discovered a few book blogs whilst searching on the net for book reviews, I decided that as I love reading and discussing  blogging would be a lot more fun. It is!


What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

For me, the biggest challenge has been fitting blogging around my school work because school is becoming more important as I start some of my exams two years early. At first, I was a little overwhelmed by how much other bloggers posted and how fast they must read to review so often but I soon learned that it is my doesn't matter how often I post or if I don't post a review for a while because  it is my blog. Everything is so exciting and posting, visiting, commenting and playing around with your layout can become a bit of an obsession. and take over your life.
 I found it helpful to remember that everyone else is in the same boat and know that life can sometimes just become too bust and blogging gets pushed into the background for a while. Keeping a balance with life is important for new bloggers to consider.

What do you find most discouraging about being a new blogger?

It wasn't exactly discouraging but at first I was very overwhelmed by the amount of YA bloggers out there and wondered how I was ever going to get to know any of them or make myself known. I think this is something that all newbie bloggers feel when they first start and this is something that will pass in time. However discouraged you might be about your follower count compared to the other bloggers it is important to remember that everyone was a new blogger once and their followers didn't just appear overnight. What I found most useful was participating in the Book Blogger Hop held at Crazy For Books, which is an event held every Friday where bloggers 'hop' or visit other blogs to find new blogs to follow and wish people a happy weekend. On my first week participating  I was ecstatic to receive visitors, comments and new followers who were all so very welcoming and encouraging. The Hop also gives you a chance to get to know lots of other bloggers who are interested in the same type of genres as you and learn from them. Gradually, as you read other blogs and post thoughtful and meaningful comments on other blogs it is likely that they will visit on your blog too. The best advice I can give is to remember that building awareness and readership of your blog takes time and patience so it is best to focus on writing quality reviews and other content on your blog. The rest will come in time!


What do you find most encouraging?

Book blogging has been such a fun and positive experience for me so far and the biggest reason for this is that the community are so welcoming and kind. You are accepted regardless of age, where you come from or favourite genres ect. and there is a wonderful sense of belonging. Everyone is so willing to give advice if you ever feel you need any advice and this event is a brilliant example of that!


What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?

My favourite blogs all write good quality reviews that consider different aspects of the book and balance their thoughts with what they liked and didn't like about the book instead of just saying, 'I absolutely loved this book!' As this is what I find most helpful and like to read, I try to make my reviews detailed and structured clearly in different paragraphs for different aspects as if it is a long review everything can get a bit muddled it if is not.

Layout is another important feature of a blog for me. I like backgrounds that are clear and well organised and . I will never judge a blog just on what it looks like but I love blogs with pretty/appealing  backgrounds as they are so nice to look at. I have tried to make sure my blog is not cluttered with too many distracting and buttons in the sidebar and that it is easy to navigate. The background has also changed several times to make it just right.

I also like it when blogs have their own memes/features/challenges and other original conent as this makes me more likely to stand out in my mind. There are lots of other bloggers that hold similar features but I started my own feature Coverlicious where I share anything to do with covers from covers that I love to look-a-like covers. I also try to review books that not everyone is talking about in the blogosphere to bring new books onto the radar and provide variety.

What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this?

I dislike when a blog is hard to read for example when they have very a light font on a dark background. For me, white writing is harder to read on a dark background and this might put me off reading it a little bit. I also don't like it when a blog is too cluttered with different buttons and images on 2 sidebars so that the main post writing gets lost amongst it and I become distracted. Another thing that I find annoying sometimes is when a blogger has automated music or videos on their sidebar that you have to search to find to turn them off. I try to avoid all these things.
In terms of reviews, I don't like it when there is a spoiler without warning or when there are numerous spelling and grammar mistakes littered throughout.


Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

My biggest piece of advice is not to stress if you don't get any comments on a post or if you don't have many followers but to connect with other bloggers as much as you can. There are plenty of ways of doing this such as participating in weekly memes such as Musing on Monday, Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday. They are lots of fun too and often get discussion going between you and other bloggers so you end up having small conversations. I have also joined Book Blogs Ning, which is a forum for book bloggers to chat and discuss which is a great way to make yourself known. I would warn new bloggers against leaving a link to their blog on a general comment on a non- meme post as this could be seen as spam. I think it is okay to do this on memes though as I know for me that it is helpful to have a straight link instead of having to spend time visiting some one's profile.

As you get to know the book blogging world better, you may notice that many bloggers get review copies of books from publishers. Once you have been blogging for longer and have more followers you may also get the opportunity to do this, which is incredibly exciting. However, it is important to get bogged down in trying to receive review copies as this was probably not the reason you started and to not accept too many at once.
I would also advise that you try and establish a unique voice within the blogosphere and this doesn't mean anything eccentric but just being YOU!

How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?

I  don't really think that has happened yet but the way I got got awareness of my blog was through all of the things I have mentioned before such as commenting and participating in memes like the Book Blogger Hop.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
 
Book blogging has really improved my review writing and I have been introduced to so many new books and websites such as Goodreads I might have never otherwise found. Thank you to everyone who makes the book blogging community what it is!

12 comments:

  1. Great answers and insight, Stephanie! This is such an amazing community that we're a part of, and you're right, we definitely all support one another. I think that's how I've managed to get to where I am today. Without having had other bloggers to lean on for advice and support, I would never have even been able to get my blog off the ground.

    I'm so glad you participated in this feature, too...it was a great idea to encourage involvement :)

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  2. Thanks for the advice! I'm new to blogging and this was very helpful!

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  3. Totally agree with the light font, dark background.
    The Hops are wonderful. I had a different blog before this one and never had a good way to get a decent number of visitors. Even though there are loads of YA blogs, after awhile, you become familiar with lots of them as they appear again and again in the memes.

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  4. I didn't know you wanted to be a journalist, Stephanie! Neat. Although I can see why blogging about books would be way more fun :D

    Great answers. I too find it annoying when those automated music/videos turn on and then I'm all, "What? Where is that coming from?" and it takes me forever to figure out that it's somewhere on the blog that I'm visiting :D

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  5. Your answers are really thoughtful and you have some great advice. I think you'll have no problems in becoming a journalist and I'm looking forward to following you :)

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  6. Thanks for all your comments!

    Melissa- I feel exactly the same, without the support I wouldn't have known where to start!

    Demitria- I'm so glad you found this post useful and I was able to help you. If you have any questions, I'm sure anyone participating in the event would be happy to help :)

    Alison- Yes, they do become familiar to you after a while and you start to build your own smaller community in the blogs you regularly visit within the larger one.

    Danya- Book blogging has also made me consider publishing too and a local publisher whose young writer's competition I entered has said that I might be able to go to help there in the summer. Very exciting!

    A Canadian Girl- Awww, thanks and thank you for following me :)

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  7. Thank you for participating!

    You give great advice about balance. I'm still trying to find that balance and see what works for me.

    I love talking about book covers, so I'll definitely be checking out your cover feature. Thanks for mentioning it!

    Your responses have been very helpful. I'm glad you decided to join in with the event. :)

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  8. So much good advice in this post. I agree that the blog hop is a lifesaver for new bloggers - it's definitely a great way to get to know the book blogging community! :)

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  9. Hello! I'm only just now getting around to visiting the other people's blogs in this event. Wow, all your answers are so extensive and long. I especially love the advice you gave! Thanks.

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  10. I'm so glad we got some established bloggers to respond to this event. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! As a newbie, I really appreciate it!

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  11. New follower, just discovered your blog through this event. I agree with so much of what you said. I look forward to reading more of your blog! Good Luck!

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  12. I completely agree with posting when you want to. At first, I was intimidated and quite surprised that people could be posting so much. But it is my blog, and blogging is only one aspect of my life. So it's okay, if I miss blogging for a week every now and again. I loved how your answers were so thought out!

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I love comments, they make me smile! So thank you for taking the time to write one, I read all of them.
I try my best to reply here or on your blog :)

Stephanie x